Monday, December 22, 2014

A few more book recommendations for procrastinating gift-givers

For kids who like tales about intelligent rodents and/or planes: Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann. A mouse whose compatriots have fled the country due to the introduction of a new mechanical mousetrap is unable to leave himself. Mistaking bats for flying mice, he is inspired to create a flying machine of his own so that he, too, can escape. Yeah, this is a picture book so it skews younger than the Guys Lit Wire intended audience, but the story is inventive and the artwork flat-out stunning. One of my favorites in a year of outstanding picture books, I've been pushing this on readers of all ages.

For superhero comic book fans: Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe by Tim Leong uses infographics (a few samples) to chart the world of comics.

For precocious or aspiring foodies: Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear is a wild look at adventurous eaters and food movements, in a very New Yorker way (Goodyear writes for the magazine). Dan Barber's The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food is a more detailed look at agriculture, sustainability, nutrition, and food traditions. Hmm, I made that sound really boring, but the book is full of fascinating people and information. While the viewpoint is limited, it does provide a lot of, well, food for thought, especially for people who care about food.

For readers looking for a character they can really root for: I'm not the only person calling The Martian by Andy Weir a favorite book of this year. Partly because it's really smart, partly because it's really funny, partly because it's really suspenseful. (I mean, there must be a reason so many A-list names are involved in the film adaptation, right?) But I wonder if, in a year that has seen so much despair and senseless violence, The Martian's optimism and perhaps old-fashioned can-do attitude has provided a much needed antidote for readers. In any case, I highly recommend this both to science fiction fans and science fiction avoiders--it is that awesome a book.

Need more suggestions? Take a look at Holiday Gift Guide: Books That Aren’t Pretentious Crap by Drew Magary at Deadspin, an opinionated (this is Deadspin, after all), nonfiction-heavy list, including the awesomely-titled "Overly Ambitious Explorers Who Discover Lots of Bad Karma" category. And play around with NPR's super cool Book Concierge, which lets you narrow down a great, eclectic list of books by category (including genre, book length, funny books, and more).

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